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New Proofs for the Existence of God Contributions of Contemporary Physics & Philosophy

Author: Robert J Spitzer
Published By: William B Eerdmans (Grand Rapids )
Pages: 319
Price: £18.99
ISBN: 978 0 8028 6383 6

Reviewed by Kim Hitch.

Robert Spitzer is a Jesuit academic, and presenter on EWTN, the global Roman Catholic television network. He is currently President of the Magis Institute for Faith and Reason in California.

The title of this book is far from modest; however, the author does recognise that it is more accurate to say that he seeks to show that God’s existence is a reasonable ‘inference’ in the face of the evidence available.

The script is somewhat dense and convoluted, making a complex train of thought even more difficult to follow. In part this is caused by the rigorous and thorough argument provided by the author; however, it is also a mark of the author’s style. By far the most readable part of the book is its opening chapter, and the author acknowledges help in making its text ‘lucid’ and ‘accessible’. It is a shame that similar help was not accessed for the writing of the rest of the book.

The book has three parts. Part two deals with the author’s philosophical proofs for the existence of God, and is the heart of the book. It is probably where the author feels most at home. I am not qualified to judge the author’s philosophical argument, although I suspect that most discussion about it would focus on the axioms underpinning it. However, philosophical arguments about God cannot start and end in thin air, so part one provides the raw material upon which to base the philosophical arguments of part two. It explores contemporary Big Bang Cosmology and the indications of supernatural design of the universe that it offers. Part Three dovetails what the author calls the divine and human mysteries. It takes the God proven in part two and relates him to human experience and desires.

To my understanding, the problem with trying to prove the existence of God is that it is like trying to explain a joke. It can be done, but, by the end, one is left with a feeling of disappointment. Perhaps examining God objectively puts into relief that the fact that God is to be known personally.

However, it is important that this book has been written, for in the context of contemporary culture of atheistic scepticism, Fr Spitzer has shown that it is possible to produce a coherent understanding of the universe including God, and not simply confining God to the realms of mystery. An interesting theme running though the book is the many references to pre-Enlightenment thinkers, and the suggestion that some of the thinking spawned by the Enlightenment has run its course.

If philosophical argument is your cup of tea, then you might wish to give this book a go. More generally, I hope that someone will take its insights and sheer hard work and make them more accessible to a wider public. It is a message worth hearing.

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You are reading Issue 55 of Ministry Today, published in July 2012.

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